WakeMed has signed a formal partnership with one of Raleigh's oldest cardiology groups, the latest deal involving hospitals taking over physicians' practices.
Raleigh Cardiology Associates, which was started in 1979 and now has eight heart doctors, will become part of WakeMed's physician network on Oct. 1.
With health reform looming and competition increasing, Wake County's largest hospital system has reached similar agreements with other physicians' practices.
Rex Healthcare, Duke Raleigh Hospital and others also are working to attract more physician groups.
Hospitals want physicians to refer patients, especially for important revenue sources such as heart care. Physicians are turning to hospitals as partners as they worry about changes the federal health overhaul will bring, including lower payments from Medicare. Hospitals can help with billing, hiring and other back-office functions.
Patients won't see much change at the outset. Raleigh Cardiology will continue working out of its offices on WakeMed's flagship campus in Raleigh.
But as more physicians affiliate with specific hospitals, it could limit choices for consumers who want to have procedures done somewhere else.